Review by Kelly Besaw
Photos by Chris Besaw
The Ghost Re-Imperatour Tour brought a night of Swedish heavy metal to the St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater is Syracuse on Friday August 18. Rain and heavy winds did not stop the die-hard metal fans from filling the amp to enjoy opener Amon Amarth and the lawn remained full despite the constant downpour throughout Ghost’s entire set.
Getting things started off was Swedish metal band Amon Amarth. It was the band’s first-time playing Syracuse and all I can say is wow! Their stage setup is phenomenal. Jocke Wallgren’s drum kit sat atop a giant Viking helmet, while blowup props flanked each side of the stage, different characters appeared and battled onstage, and a massive dragon loomed over the band for part of the set. Lead singer Johan Hegg had a commanding stage presence as he led the audience through tales of old Norse Mythology with songs including, “Raven’s Flight,” “Heidrun,” “The Way of Vikings,” “Guardians of Asgaard” and more.
One of my favorite moments was when the band asked everyone to sit down and row during “Put Your Back Into the Oar.” Most of the Syracuse audience complied, making for a stunning visual of everyone rowing a Viking ship. “They ended their hour-long set with “Twilight of the Thunder God” and right on cue the rain started coming down harder and created an eerie mist in front of the stage. The band exited the stage after thanking fans and throwing out a bunch of guitar pics and wrist bands. The crowd roared with approval.
I did not know much about Amon Amarth and had never seen them prior, but I can say that I enjoyed their set and left a fan. One of my favorite parts of going to concerts is being exposed to new music and after seeing Amon Amarth live, I cannot wait to see them again.
By the time the crew was preparing the stage for Ghost, the wind had picked up. The tech crew had trouble getting the white curtain used to hide the stage during setup to stay in place and eventually gave up. After a slight delay, Papa Emeritus IV (Tobias Forge) and the Ghouls took the stage and started off with “Kaisarion” followed by the popular hit “Rats.” The band did not let the rain or wind slow them down. Forge immediately took center stage, rain and wind whipping his hair back so that he could connect with his fans. It wasn’t long before he had everyone singing along to “Rats.”
I have seen Ghost before and one thing I can say is that Forge is an excellent showman. He moves around the stage in time to the music, cracks jokes, is witty and knows how to work the crowd. He reminds me in some ways of Alice Cooper. The band known as the “nameless Ghouls” typically moves around the stage a lot. I could tell that they were taking it easy due to unsafe wet conditions. Crew members were drying off the stage continuously throughout the performance. The evening continued with one of my favorites, “Absolution” and one of their new hits, “Call Me Little Sunshine.” Forge made several jokes about the unseasonably cold and rainy weather. At one point, he paused and said, “are you cold Syracuse? I’m a bit nippy and many of you are wearing a lot less than I am.” He assured fans that they would get through it together. The fans weren’t going anywhere. Many were dressed as nuns, clergy members and donned face paint similar to Papa’s and were clearly not going to let a little rain deter them.
They kept things moving along ending the first part of their set with “Year Zero” before taking a very brief break. The second half of their set proved to be equally entertaining. They started it off with “He Is” and during “Miasma” they brought back Papa Emeritus Nihil to play a little saxophone interlude. It wasn’t long before he collapsed back in the coffin and was carted offstage. This portion of the set also included the fan favorite “Mary on a Cross” and everyone sang along. They finished with “Respite on the Spitalfields” before bidding the crowd goodnight.
Papa and the band returned to the stage for an encore, and he asked the Syracuse fans if they had enough or if they wanted one more song. After a bit of teasing, he agreed that they would do three more before calling it a night. Forge described it as three quickies as the band launched into some of their biggest hits, “Kiss the Go-Goat,” “Dance Macabre” and of course “Square Hammer.” Forge promised Syracuse that they would be back, he and the ghouls took their bows and waved goodnight to a very happy crowd.
From the Pinnacle to the Pit
Call Me Little Sunshine
Con Clavi Con Dio
Watcher in the Sky
Mary on a Cross
Respite on the Spitalfields
Kiss the Go-Goat